My latest at ProfHacker: All Things Google: A Busy Month

Google logo with Einstein's face addedThere’s been a lot going on for Google lately. Since just before the end of April, Google has made changes to its mobile apps, introduced a new tool for educators, and run into some trouble in Europe. Given the degree to which All Things Google play a role in our lives (for good or for ill), it seems appropriate to offer some brief commentary on each.

Mobile applications

The change to Google’s mobile applications was a pretty significant one. Previously, everything you wanted to do with any documents you had on a mobile device, you did in the Drive application. Google now has standalone apps for Documents and Sheets, with Slides due “soon.”

I’ve had a look at these new applications on both my iPad and my Android phone. On Android, the experience is more pleasant . . . but my phone really isn’t a device I want to use for writing anything longer than about a paragraph.

For that sort of writing, I’d much rather use my iPad. On the iPad, however, is precisely where I run into issues. Editing is a pleasant enough experience. Forget organizing your files or sending them as attachments, though. Want to change what folder a document is in? You’ll have to go to the Drive app for that. If you want to send a document as an attachment, rather than simply sharing it with the intended recipient? Even in the Drive app, you can’t — not without opening the document in a third-party application first.

Those are really annoying limitations for the iOS apps, given that I can accomplish either task with ease in the Android versions. Grumble.


Google announced Classroom, a new tool in its Apps for Education suite, the first week of May. It’s hard to know what to think about it just yet, since it isn’t readily available (it should be in time for the fall semester; in the meantime, it’s possible to sign up for a preview that should be available sometime in June). From what’s presented on their site, it seems to be intended primarily for middle schools and high schools, but it may also have some uses for those at the college and university level (it might, for instance, make it unnecessary to use third-party solutions such as Flubaroo). Time will tell.

Decision of European Court

The big news as I’m writing this (on May 15) is the May 13 judgment of the European Court of Justice that Google must remove links that might be damaging to someone’s reputation (effectively allowing people to erase their records), unless there’s a compelling reason not to — even if the pages the links point to are perfectly legal, and need not themselves be removed.

Jonathan Zittrain agrees that the European Court is addressing a very real problem, but thinks the solution they’ve settled on is less than stellar. In any event, the case should make an interesting topic of discussion for my Political Issues course this fall.

What about you? What do you think of Google’s new mobile apps? Are you planning to take a look at Google Classroom? What do you make of the European Court’s decision? Let us know in the comments.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Danny Sullivan]

from ProfHacker » Amy CavenderProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education

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